Riding the Bozo Bus & Enjoying the Ride

I’m reading Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser. broken-openI love her chapter “Bozos on the Bus”, starting with a quote:

“We’re all bozos on the bus, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.” Wavy Gravy, clown activist

At the end of this short chapter she goes on to say:

“This, in my opinion, is cause for celebration. If we’re all bozos, then…we can put down the burden of pretense and get on with being bozos. We can approach the problems that visit bozo-type beings without the usual embarrassment and resistance. It is so much more effective to work on our rough edges with a light and forgiving heart. Imagine how freeing it would be to take a more compassionate and comedic view of the human condition—not as a way to deny our defects but as a way to welcome them as part of the standard human operating system. Every single person on this bus called Earth hurts; it’s when we have shame about our failings that hurt turns into suffering. In our shame, we feel outcast, as if there is another bus somewhere, rolling along on a smooth road. Its passengers are all thin, healthy, happy, well-dressed, and well-liked people who belong to harmonious families, hold jobs that don’t bore or aggravate them, and never do mean things, or goofy things like forget where they parked their car, lose their wallet, or say something totally inappropriate. We long to be on that bus with the other normal people.

But we are on the bus that says BOZO on the front, and we worry that we may be the only passenger on board. This is the illusion that so many of us labor under—that we’re all alone in our weirdness and our uncertainty; that we may be the most lost person on the highway. Of course we don’t always feel like this. Sometimes a wave of self-forgiveness washes over us, and suddenly we’re connected to our fellow humans; suddenly we belong.

It is wonderful to take your place on the bus with the other bozos. It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus—that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going—is also filled with bozos: bozos in drag, bozos with secrets. When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up, and we become as buoyant as those people we imagined on the other bus. As we rumble along the potholed road, lost as ever, through the valleys and over the hills, we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.”

I won’t try to add to what Elizabeth Lesser has written so beautifully, thoroughly and clearly. I would, however, like to ask you to read through the last three paragraphs one more time—slowly and thoughtfully. Then, if you feel so led, leave a comment and tell me what speaks to you.


“Had there been no difficulties and no thorns in the way, then man would have been in his primitive state and no progress made in civilization and mental culture.”–Anandibai Joshee

About Anandibai Joshee: The first Hindu woman to receive a medical degree. She was born in 1865 into the constrictive Brahmin class in India. Born with the name Yamu, she was married at age nine to Gopalrao Joshi, who renamed her and educated her in secret, watching her grow more independent. She secretly flew to the United States to become a doctor and intended to treat Indian women, who were not given medical attention at the time, but died of tuberculosis in 1887 at age 22.)

TODAY’S EXERCISE: 30 minutes of  parasympathetic activity (inactivity?)


~ by Kimberly Mason on April 15, 2009.

3 Responses to “Riding the Bozo Bus & Enjoying the Ride”

  1. I remember when my husband & I were first dating he didn’t want to take me to meet his family. “They’re too dysfunctional,” he said (we were both in seminary at the time). After I met them I asked him what was so dysfunctional about them? They were just like normal people to me. It was very freeing for him to realize that he didn’t need to be ashamed of his family – that every family is cringe-, belly laugh-, & love-worthy!

  2. This is profound. I felt an allegiance with the people on the Bozo bus, almost like a loyalty to one’s school or family. Certainly there is awareness of the people on the other bus, but there is no jealousy on our bus, we’re one; we’ve become united because we understand each other and with understanding comes acceptance.

  3. Kim, Remember the family that lived down the road from us in the 1970s – the father had a three figure job, the mother was a super Miss Suzy Homemaker, two boys, two girls, all honor roll students? A seemingly perfect family. We all thought so. And yet if one looked beyond the surface – the father was having an affair, the mother was an emotional time-bomb and the kids had their individual problems also. The “perfect family” was all a front. It makes for a difficult life. If only they had known that it is OK not to be perfect. Thanks be to God.

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